PickNik Robotics and Motiv Space Systems Partner to Develop Advanced Robot Arm Capabilities

PickNik is integrating its motion software with Motiv's robot arms to improve capabilities for space exploration.

PickNik Robotics

PickNik and Motiv are collaborating to improve robot arm performance for operations both inside and outside vehicles.
PickNik Robotics, which offers the MoveIt robot control software, and Motiv Space Systems, which makes the xLink robot arms, are working to advance in-space servicing, assembly, and manufacturing.

PickNik Robotics Inc. and Motiv Space Systems Inc. today announced a partnership to develop technologies for space applications. The companies said they plan to enhance In-Space Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing, or ISAM, capabilities by integrating PickNik’s MoveIt Studio software with Motiv’s xLink robot arm product line.

“We are really excited to partner with Motiv to advance ISAM capabilities with more capable robots,” said Dr. Dave Coleman, CEO pf PickNik, in a press release.

“Our collaboration with Motiv aims to change what’s possible in future space missions, with multi-purpose robots augmenting humans in intelligent and collaborative ways previously not thought possible,” he added. “Together, our companies seek to engage commercial space groups and government agencies to enable the next stage of robotic capabilities.”

PickNik brings control software experience

Founded in 2015, PickNik Robotics said it helps partners address the technical, cost, and time challenges around the development of robotics applications. The Boulder, Colo.-based startup last week rebranded as “the Unstructured Robotics Company.”

PickNik has received Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 3 funding from NASA to develop advanced motion-planning capabilities for robots in microgravity environments. It has also a commercial-off-the-shelf product for supervised autonomy for space missions called MoveIt Space.

In addition, the company has worked with NASA and various commercial space companies to lead the development of Space ROS, a flight-certified version of the Robot Operating System (ROS).

Motiv develops robotic arms for use in space

Founded in 2014, Motiv Space Systems has designed and manufactured space systems for commercial and scientific applications, including Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars, and beyond. Among its contracts was the xLink robot arm, which is designed for extravehicular activity (EVA) and intravehicular activity (IVA) applications.

In collaboration with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the Pasadena, Calif.-based company has also been developing the COLDArm robotic system for operation in cryogenic temperatures down to -180°C for operations in the permanently shadowed regions on the lunar surface.

Under the memorandum of understanding (MOU), the two companies will jointly pursue applications in the ISAM domain using Motiv's hardware and PickNik's MoveIt Studio for high-level robotics control. PickNik will also provide advanced robot capabilities on Motiv's hardware, including the xLink and other robotic systems.

“We are thrilled to partner with PickNik Robotics to leverage their advanced robotics control software capabilities in the widely used ROS architecture,” stated Chris Thayer, president and CEO of Motiv Space Systems. “Together, we can realize the potential of ISAM applications to revolutionize space exploration through the use of modular hardware and software, and we look forward to future collaborations and partnerships with PickNik Robotics.”

Motiv Space Systems said its xLink robot arm is economical. adaptable, and can accommodate nearly every current and planned application for space-rated robotic manipulation.

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PickNik Robotics

PickNik and Motiv are collaborating to improve robot arm performance for operations both inside and outside vehicles.

Robot Technologies